This flash fiction piece brought to you by Terrible Minds blogger and brilliant author, Chuck Wendig. He challenged, and I mean challenged, us to write half a piece from the protagonist’s perspective and half from the antagonist’s perspective.
I really struggled with this. I started trying to write this on Friday. Granted I was doing the great Room Redo and wasn’t necessarily focused, but 1,000 words is not difficult to produce. The tough part was trying to tell a flash story and get inside both these characters’ heads. That is hard to do in a mere 1,000 words. I’m learning. It took sitting in my favorite cafe with my iPod on when Rob Zombie’s American Witch came on that this story finally came to me.
My original draft was 1,037 words. It’s now dead on 1,000 words. My chief alpha reader, dear husband, read this and said I seemed to write the antagonist better than the protagonist. I commented back that sometimes it’s easier to be the bitch, I guess.
He said, “It seems odd that you would nail the antagonist better than your character.”
I said, “You mean the protagonist?”
He said, “But that character is more like you.”
I said, “Yes, she’s like me, but isn’t me. Just because you can see elements of me or people we know in my work doesn’t mean it’s them or you or me.”
This conversation coming after I commented on Theodora Goss’s blog that I thought my immediate family understood this. /headdesk.
If you are the kind that is offended by pointing fingers at religion, government, feminist overtones or profanity or any other sort of transgressive literature, you might want to go find something else to read. I am finding more and more about what I write is very transgressive. It’s uncomfortable, which tells me I really need to do this.
I’m not necessarily sold on this piece, but it’s an exercise. We’re all learning — me about my craft and you about me. Yes? Regardless, I hope it does something for you…whatever that might be.
DEATH BY BIBLE
Tabitha sat in the cafe, wanting more peace than what was being offered. She knew this afternoon was likely going to be a complete waste of time. The pain in her shoulder was distracting her from her work. Even lifting her mug of java to her lips caused pain.
As she tried to get a message via the net to her circle, that she was fine but in hiding, she thought back to last week, when the enforcement team had raided her home, assaulted her in her own kitchen. The charge was unlicensed alchemy. With the collapse of the entire healthcare industry last year, her healing skills had come into regular use. It was only in the last month that the New Community Church had started to raise issue with her newly formed cottage industry. Just like any calling, there was a need and she filled the void. The enforcers had cornered her and she fought back like the wounded animal she was – little did she know there was more injury to come. Injury and escape.
The woman who had called the authorities along with her sign-waving cronies declaring “God Hates Witches,” stood outside the front of her home, all prim and proper – perfect too-big hair and modest bible-thumping skirt suit and obnoxious make-up that included expertly applied lipstick, that didn’t come off. It remained perfect even when she held up the good book and kissed it and said, “Praise Jesus” as they hauled Tabitha out in plastic cuffs, her nose bleeding, her shoulder already aching, and her lips and eyes swollen from the nightsticks, her brain in a fog from the taser hit which took Tabitha down and into custody at last.
Tabitha chuckled thinking about her attempt to give Little Miss Pastor’s wife the evil eye. She continued to smile as she recalled how she had fainted at Tabitha’s call of “Hell is coming for you!” All those hate witches signs were quickly made to fan Mrs. Pastor back to consciousness.
Tabitha missed her home, but it was guarded now. A day after her escape, two days ago now, she had snuck through the back forty acres of forest that lined her property and saw them, all dressed in black urban warfare attire. Who are these people? How did they get in control of the world? Why was anyone convinced this was a good thing? Healing, medicine and natural remedies had long been eradicated from everyone’s daily life; but the medical industry collapse had brought it all back. Tabitha hadn’t been very careful, she saw what she did as healing and caring – medicine. Not alchemy. Not magic. She mistook the rise in clientele numbers as acceptance. She thought those that sought her services would protect her. Instead, she would now be heading up a war. How was that for irony? Little Miss Pastor’s wife would be the first. Tabitha wanted to beat the shit out of her with that goddamn oversized Bible. But Tabitha sighed with the knowledge that she would probably just let time take its toll.
Virginia– Ginny to her friends and husband – got up off her knees and climbed into bed, her bleach-white night gown seeming to sparkle against the rich green sheets and comforter. Simple elegance, it was what she preferred. And she was used to getting what she preferred. She got the most eligible Christian man to marry her. She had ensured that no one would have better or more than she did. But, that woman, that sorceress, was to blame for all the problems as of late. Ginny thought with the arrest of Tabitha, people would come back to her husband’s flock. They would get their healing at the altar of the Lord, and pay the money to the Community Christian Church, not that witch. Also, Andrew would no longer look at that evil woman when they were out and about in town. She knew Andrew’s heart. He would never cheat – but she didn’t trust that woman to not tempt him outright. The fact that she was alone seemed wrong to Ginny. A woman should be with a man. Andrew was already snoring as she climbed into bed. There would obviously be no attempt to have a child. When one of the parishioners had suggested she go to Tabitha to maybe reverse her barren nature, Ginny snapped.
“How dare you suggest witchcraft!” Ginny cried. The parishioner had not been back and Andrew was upset, because that was a family that gave large contributions to the church.
Ginny got her Bible out and opened it, trying to find comfort in its pages, since her husband’s arms were not available. She often did this. She would take a deep breath and just let the book open, thinking God would show her what she needed to read. The Bible, dog-eared and well worn, fell open to the book of Acts. Chapter 9. It was the story of Saul’s conversion. She hadn’t read this story in a long time. She always felt so relieved when Saul came over to Christ. Then she reached verse 36: “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, who was always doing good and helping the poor.” Ginny slammed the book closed. The slamming of the book stirred her husband.
“What’s the trouble,Virginia,” Andrew grumbled. “God not responding quickly enough to you?”
“I’m sorry I disturbed you; I’m troubled still about this whole situation with the escaped witch – what if she is in consort with the devil and they bring a curse upon our house? What if they try to destroy the church?”
Andrew fluffed the pillow and turned over.
“When the amount gathered in the coffers is so little – I would think you would care more,” she rolled her eyes at her sometimes dumb-witted husband.
Ginny fluffed her own pillow and went to turn off the light and her Bible fell off the bedside table and fell open again to Acts 9.
Ginny saw it; her heart stopped and didn’t start again.